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Are some northern states toying with palliatives to vulnerable people?



Since the advent of the coronavirus pandemic, some northern states have provided succour to its citizens, but it appears Sokoto, Kebbi, Katsina and Kano states, are yet to see the need to provide relief materials to its suffering people. NAN checks reveal.

Slow response to palliative need

These states are yet to offer palliative assistance to residents affected by the restriction of movement over the Coronavirus pandemic.

A check by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) revealed that though there is no report of COVID-19 in some of the states, except Katsina, but the restrictions of movement have had its toll on social and economic well being of the people, including businesses.

The Kebbi chairman, Task Force on COVID-19, Alhaji Ja’afaru Muhammad, said all critical sectors including hoteliers, have been engaged in the fight against the pandemic.

“As part of our effort to ensure that the preventive measures against COVID-19 are strictly adhered to, we have issued letters to the hotelier managers association of the state, urging them to ensure proper maintenance of hygiene and social distancing.

“Hotels are not part of the places we had issued a directive to close but we had directed them to not hold any programme in the hotels,” he said.

Muhammad said that the committee had sensitised the managers on how to prevent their staff from contacting any virus, even though the state has no single case of COVID-19.

The state chairman of Hoteliers’ Managers Association, Alhaji Aminu Abubakar, said the managers had taken preventive measures against COVID-19.

“We have over 30 functional hotels in the state and we have adopted the directive by the task force on COVID-19.

“We have distributed face masks to our workers and sanitisers; any guest that comes to the hotel we make sure they adhere to task force directive.

“We have guests coming but the number has reduced due to lockdown and stoppage of programmes in the hotels as directed by the task force,” Abubakar said.

The Head of Public Relations of Federal Medical Centre, Birnin Kebbi, Alhaji Abdulmumin Bawa, said that following the hospital’s suspension of all visitations, the number of caregivers for each patient on admission had been limited to a minimum of one at a time.

“Management has also applied a limit to all gatherings in the hospital in line with social distancing directives of the government.

“You can see by yourself that the number of patients have reduced as we only admit those on critical condition or emergency,” he said.

The Kebbi chairman of Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr Muhammad Bala-Ambursa, said that health workers were their duties without hindrance.

“Even though we have no any case of the virus, but we are making sure that those who are at work are adequately protected as they have the right types of protection.

“We are now on surveillance and vigilance, but to reduce the effect we have cancelled all non emergency operations.

“And we don’t admit patients unless if they are critically ill, and after the necessary attention is given to them we discharge them to go back home for continuous medication and care,” he said.

According to him, all the doctors in frontline have Personnel Protective Equipment (PPE).

Meanwhile, the International Organisation for Relief, Welfare and Development from Saudi Arabia, through the Muslim World League Initiative has donated food items to 676 vulnerable persons in the state to cushion the effect of the pandemic.

The league also donated medical equipment for the protection of health workers in the state.

The items donated included 676 bags of 10 kilograms rice, 676 cartons of pasta and 676 gallons of three – liters of cooking oil.

The organization also donated 100 personal protection equipment, 1,000 face masks and 100 eye goggles to the Task Force on COVID-19 and medical personnel in the state.

In Sokoto state, Dr Ali Inname, the state Commissioner for Health and chairman State Task Force Committee on COVID-19, says plans are still in progress to provide palliatives to residents.

Inname said the committee received N131.5 million donations so far, which includes N100 million from BUA Group, owners of Cement Company of Northern Nigeria and N28.5 million from United Bank for Africa.

He the committee also received N3 million from five National Assembly members from the state, while Access Bank has pledged to construct and equip a laboratory and ward at the isolation center in Amanawa.

The commissioner said the state government had commenced the distribution of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) materials to Specialist Hospital, Maryam Abacha, Women Hospital and Noma Children Hospital as well as all general hospitals in the state.

According to him, state Task Force on COVID-19 has been working closely with health facilities and managers, as well as local government officials and traditional rulers to sensitise residents on the virus.

False claim

The Special Adviser Social Investment to Gov Aminu Tambuwal, Mr Hayatu Tafida, said 3, 802 people have benefitted from Conditional Cash Transfer Scheme in the state.

Tafida said beneficiaries of the federal government palliative were from Tambuwal, Tureta, Rabah, Isa, Binji and Gudu LGAs.

However, NAN investigation revealed that the disbursement was the routine FG assistance to indigent persons and there was so other palliative by the state government.

Hospitals were in operation under strict adherence to safety guides on self distancing, wearing face masks and using hand sanitisers placed on different locations.

Hotels have been recording few guests while schools remained closed.

NAN also reports that work on the main isolation center in Amanawa Infectious Diseases Hospital have reached advance stage of completion as roofing and plastering were done.

Plea for help

Speaking to NAN, former governor of Sokoto state, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa, pleaded with affluent people and salary earners in the country to contribute part of their earnings to help indigent citizens as the COVID-19 lockdown bites harder on citizens.

In Zamfara, the government said it has received only N17.2 million, 1, 400 bags of assorted grains and 31,000 crates of eggs from well meaning individuals in the state as palliative to cushion the effects of COVID-19 especially on the poor.

The state Commissioner of Information,  Alhaji Sulaiman Tunau, said: “though, we have not commenced the distribution of the items, the items are in the custody of the committee.

“Considering the nature of the egg, we have distributed it to the vulnerable groups, through the local government councils.

“Each of the 14 local government area of the state received 2, 000 crates of egg, making 28,000 crates, while the remaining 3, 000 crates have been distributed to vulnerable groups and individuals in the state capital.

On the state protection of health personnel against the virus, the state Commissioner of Health, Alhaji Yahaya Kanoma, said the state government had already directed all health facilities in the state to comply with Acceptable Technical Procedures.

Kanoma said, “though, the state had not recorded any COVID-19 case but the state government consider it necessary to ensure total protection of all health workers and other citizens in the state.

“We have provided enough Partner Protective Equipments to all health facilities in the state.

“We also directed hospital managements to ensure total compliance to government directives on social distancing, restriction of patient relatives visitation among other safety measures”, Kanoma said.

He appealed to people of the state to continue to cooperate with the government at all levels and always comply with the health professionals advise in order to ensure safety of all.

The Public Relations Officer of the Yariman Bakura Specialist Hospital Gusau, Malam Awwal Ruwandorowa added that: “we introduced one patient, one relative policy in addition to serious restriction for visitors.

“We provided enough sanitizers for all health workers as well as social distancing measures.”

On its part, the state branch of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) appreciates the state government’s efforts to ensure effective protection of lives of the people of the state.

The state vice chairman of the association, Dr Manir Bature, said the NMA was part of the decision taken to scale down clinical activities and also limit the number of patient’s relatives visiting hospitals.

“For medical workers protection,  we are working closely with government and hospital management to ensure good use of the available PPEs bearing in mind the scarcity of the commodity globally.”

Senator Babba Kaita’s lone effort in Katsina

In Katsina state, apart from the N2.6 billion shared to 130, 000 households under the federal government Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) programme, only Senator Ahmad Babba-Kaita, has provided relief materials to people of Daura local government area, which was totally lockdown over COVID-19.

Babba-Kaita, who represents Katsina North senatorial district, provided 9,000 bags of rice and 1,000 cartons of pasta which were distributed to vulnerable people in the area.

Some of the residents told NAN that: “up to now, only Senator Babba Kaita distributed relief materials to Daura residents, so, we are appealing to people and governments to come to our aid.

“We also urge the government to review the lockdown measure considering the fact that majority of the residents need to go out to get what to eat daily.”

In Kano state, some residents of Kano state have commended the federal government over disbursement of N1.6 billion to over 84, 000 beneficiaries, as palliative to mitigate the effect of the lockdown occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic.

The federal government had on April began disbursement of N1.6 billion to 84, 000 poor persons and vulnerable in 15 selected local government areas of the state.

The monies were being disbursed to the beneficiaries under the National Social Investment Programme (N-SIP) otherwise called “Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT)”.

About 10, 000 beneficiaries had so far benefited from the exercise in Kura and Makoda Local Government Areas while the exercise was still ongoing in other local government areas of the state.

Nasiru Sadik, N-SIP Focal Person in the state, said each of the beneficiaries received N20, 000 from the government under the programme, adding that the beneficiaries were also trained on how to empower themselves through group savings.

Sadik listed the participating local government councils to include Kura; Makoda,  Garun-Malam,  Minjibir, Madobi,  Shanono, Rogo,  Kiru, Bebeji,  Sumaila,  Tsanyawa,  Dawakin Kudu,  Gwarzo,  Kunci and  Tudun Wada.

A cross section of the residents commended the gesture, adding it would go a long way to ease their hardship as well as improve their social and economic well being.

However, the Kano state government was yet to begin distribution of donations collected from spirited individuals to mitigate the effect of the lockdown on poor families in the state.

According to the COVID-19 Fund Rising Committee set up by Gov Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, Aliko Dangote had so far established a 500-bed capacity Isolation Centre at Sani Abacha Stadium, Kofar Mata in the metropolis.

Wealthy individuals such Alhaji Aminu Dantata, Abdulsamadu Rabiu, banks, companies, and corporate organisations had also donated huge sum of money, food items and consumables to the committee to for distribution to the indigent citizens.

Alhaji Muhammad Garba, the Commissioner for Information and member of the committee, said people were still making donation, saying that the committee would soon begin distributing the donated items to less privilege in the society.

Meanwhile, some Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), development organisations and philanthropists have begun distributing palliatives to the poor and less privilege families in the society.

They include a businessman Mudassir and Brothers; a famous Hausa writer and actress Aisha Aliyu and an NGO, Creative Helping the Needy and Sadakatul Jariya Foundation.

They organisations and philanthropists distributed food items, essential commodities and cash to the poor in various parts of the state in the past three weeks.

Some of the residents in Kano metropolitan area commended the gesture, adding it assisted to ease their hardship occasioned by the lockdown.

Fauziyya Suleiman, one the beneficiaries at Yakasai Quarters, Kano Municipal Council, said she received a donation of N100, 000 from an actress Aisha Aliyu, to enable her fend for family.

Also, Aminu Ibrahim, said he received a donation of food items and closing materials from organisations in the state.

However, some mothers have appealed to the federal government to provide more palliative measures to alleviate their sufferings.

A business woman, Sayo Setemi, noted that the COVID-19 has affected her business, and called for introduction of practical modalities to ensure that the palliative reach the targeted poor families.

Mrs Asabe Danlami, said that the government should provide necessary requirements available to make sure the palliatives reach the rural areas.

“The government should come up with a system to distribute the palliative directly to each beneficiary by using BVN or any other means of valid identification no matter how little is the amount.

“For rural women who do not have account numbers, the government should go through local government councils to get down to them,” she said.

Similarly, hotels and hospitals in Kano had adopted proactive precautionary measures to contain spread of the Coronavirus.

At Bristol Palace and Tahir Hotel as well as Muhammed Abdullahi Wase Hospitals visitors were being screened to prevent spread of the virus.

Also, the managements provided hand sanitisers and hand washing facilities as well as encourage social distancing. (NAN)

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